The chapter on confession (pācittiya)

Monks’ Confession 12: the training rule on evasive speech

Origin story

First sub-story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Monastery. At that time Venerable Channa was misbehaving. “Who has committed an offense? What offense has been committed? In regard to what has an offense has been committed? How has an offense been committed? Who are you talking about? What are you talking about?”

The monks of few desires … complained and criticized him, “How can Venerable Channa speak evasively in this way when he is examined about an offense in the midst of the Order?’”… “Is it true, Channa, that you are speaking like this?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him, “… Foolish man, when examined about an offense in the midst of the Order, how can you speak evasively, thus: ‘Who has committed an offense? What offense has been committed? In regard to what has an offense has been committed? How has an offense been committed? Who are you talking about? What are you talking about?’ This will not give rise to confidence in those without it …”… and after criticizing him … he gave a teaching and addressed the monks, “Well then, monks, let the Order charge Channa with evasive speech. And he is to be charged in this way. A competent and capable monk should inform the Order:

‘Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk Channa speaks evasively when examined about an offense in the midst of the Order. If it seems appropriate to the Order, the Order should charge him with evasive speech. This is the motion.

Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk Channa speaks evasively when examined about an offense in the midst of the Order. The Order is charging him of evasive speech. Any monk who approves of charging him of evasive speech should remain silent. Any monk who does not approve should say so.

The Order has charged the monk Channa of evasive speech. The Order approves and is therefore silent. I will remember it thus.’”

After criticizing Channa in many ways for being difficult to support … the Master said, “And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Preliminary ruling

‘If a monk speaks evasively, he commits an offense entailing confession.’”

In this way the Master laid down this training rule for the monks.

Second sub-story

Later, when Channa was again being examined about an offense in the midst of the Order, he thought, “By speaking evasively I’ll commit an offenses,” and he instead harassed the Order by remaining silent.

The monks of few desires … complained and criticized him, “When he’s examined about an offense in the midst of the Order, how can Venerable Channa harass the Order by remaining silent?’”… “Is it true, Channa, that you are acting like this?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him, “… Foolish man, when you are examined about an offense in the midst of the Order, how can you harass the Order by remaining silent? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it …”… and after criticizing him … he gave a teaching and addressed the monks, “Well then, monks, let the Order charge Channa of harassment. And he is to be charged in this way. A competent and capable monk should inform the Order:

‘Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk Channa, when examined about an offense in the midst of the Order, harasses the Order by remaining silent. If it seems appropriate to the Order, the Order should charge him of harassment. This is the motion.

Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk Channa, when examined about an offense in the midst of the Order, harasses the Order by remaining silent. The Order is charging him of harassment. Any monk who approves of charging him of harassment should remain silent. Any monk who does not approve should say so.

The Order has charged the monk Channa of harassment. The Order approves and is therefore silent. I will remember it thus.’”

After criticizing Channa in many ways for being difficult to support … the Master said, “And so, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘If a monk speaks evasively or harasses, he commits an offense entailing confession.’”

Definitions

One who speaks evasively: when being examined in the midst of the Order about an action that was the basis for an offense or about the class of an offense, he speaks evasively because he does not want to talk about it or reveal it, saying, “Who has committed an offense? What offense has been committed? In regard to what has an offense has been committed? How has an offense been committed? Who are you talking about? What are you talking about?”— this is called “one who speaks evasively.”

One who harasses: when being examined in the midst of the Order about an action that was the basis for an offense or about the class of an offense, he harasses the Order by remaining silent because he does not want to talk about it or reveal it— this is called “one who harasses.”

Permutations

If he has not been charged with evasive speech, but he is being examined in the midst of the Order about an action that was the basis for an offense or about the class of an offense, and he then speaks evasively because he does not want to talk about it or reveal it, saying, “Who has committed an offense? What offense has been committed? In regard to what has an offense has been committed? How has an offense been committed? Who are you talking about? What are you talking about?” then he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

If he has not been charged with harassment, but he is being examined in the midst of the Order about an action that was the basis for an offense or about the class of an offense, and he then harasses the Order by remaining silent because he does not want to talk about it or reveal it, then he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

If he has been charged with evasive speech, and he is being examined in the midst of the Order about an action that was the basis for an offense or about the class of an offense, and he then speaks evasively because he does not want to talk about it or reveal it, saying,

“Who has committed an offense? What offense has been committed? In regard to what has an offense has been committed? How has an offense been committed? Who are you talking about? What are you talking about?” then he commits an offense entailing confession.

If he has been charged with harassment, and he is being examined in the midst of the Order about an action that was the basis for an offense or about the class of an offense, and he then harasses the Order by remaining silent because he does not want to talk about it or reveal it, then he commits an offense entailing confession.


If it is a legitimate procedure, and he perceives it as legitimate, and he speaks evasively and he harasses, he commits an offense entailing confession. If it is a legitimate procedure, but he is unsure if it is, and he speaks evasively and he harasses, he commits an offense entailing confession. If it is a legitimate procedure, but he perceives it as illegitimate, and he speaks evasively and he harasses, he commits an offense entailing confession.

If it is an illegitimate procedure, but he perceives it as legitimate, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is an illegitimate procedure, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If it is an illegitimate procedure, and he perceives it as illegitimate, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he asks because he does not know; if he does not speak because he is sick; if he does not speak because he thinks there will be quarreling or disputing in the Order; if he does not speak because he thinks there will be fracture or schism in the Order; if he does not speak because he thinks the procedure will be illegitimate, done by an incomplete assembly, or done to one who is not subject to a procedure; if he is insane; if he is the first offender.


The second rule, the training rule on evasive speech, is finished.